Status and distribution Breeds in east & south Portugal, across much of Spain and southern France to Italy, also from Slovenia to Greece and Crete, Macedonia and southern Bulgaria. Range coninues across Turkey except central plateau to Transcaucasia and possibly northern Iraq. In the Near East breeds in Lebanon, northern Israel and west Jordan and in North Africa in Morocco, northern parts of Algeria and Tunisia and in coastal Libya.
Winters along the southern edge of the Sahara, in southern Arabia and from Iran to India. Leaves breeding areas from late Jul, mainly Aug-Sep and return from late Mar, mainly Apr-May. Passage birds occur throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Vagrants recorded in Britain, Sweden, Germany, Austria and former Czechoslovakia, also on Madeira, Canary Is and Malta. British records (5, 1989) scattered from Scotland to Scilly but most in the south-west, recorded in Jul and Sep-Oct.
Subspecies Nominate hortensis occurs in west of range as far as Italy and north-west Libya, crassirostris from South-East Europe and from north-east Libya to the Near East, whiter below with less pinkish wash. Race jerdoni breeds east of the Region but may pass through the Middle East on migration also has whiter underparts than nominate and also has blacker and more extensive dark cap and greyer back.
Habitat Open coniferous and deciduous woodland, usually in taller bushes and smaller trees, in lowlands and foothills. Also in orchards and olive groves, gardens and parks, riverine shrubs and roadside avenues.